When FreshPoint, the produce distributor for foodservice giant Sysco Corp., sought a traceability solution that tracked produce in real time throughout the supply chain, it chose the Vantage Traceability Solution.


Vantage, from Dallas-based SG Systems LLC, allows repackers such as FreshPoint to maintain traceability.


"When you bring a 25-pound box of tomatoes down a conveyor line, it could end up in six or seven different products," said Brian Sturgeon, president and chief executive officer of FreshPoint. "Once you repack the boxes, you could lose touch of what originally went into the boxes."


SG Systems installed the equipment in December.


"What we designed is a system where you scan in information down the line and print a label at the end of the line," Sturgeon said. "You have a label with a barcode that tells exactly what grower it came from."


The Vantage Traceability Solution originally was designed for a different industry.


"FreshPoint is the first produce company we've worked with," said Stuart Hunt, general manager for SG Systems. "We have about 1,000 customers around the world, but mainly in the bakery industry."


The system is used on the distributor's tomato repacking facility in Dallas.


"FreshPoint contacted us about traceability for its tomatoes," Hunt said.


Sturgeon said FreshPoint designed the system it wanted, and SG Systems modified it to fit produce needs.


"They made it for us, and they did a good job," Sturgeon said. "There's no one else in the industry that I'm aware of that has anything like this."


Hunt said the system generates labels that identify the finished product, country of origin and supplies the lot number from the shipping/packing facility.


Hunt said the system can be integrated directly with a company's computer server or enterprise resource planning system, providing seamless control to the production floor where produce is repacked.


"(The software) provides real-time information on what's going on the production floor," Hunt said.


The real-time information has been an invaluable traceability tool for FreshPoint, Sturgeon said.


"We can also track who's doing the packing with separate barcodes," he said. "We can tell who's packing right and who's not."


Hunt said FreshPoint is the jumping off point to what should open up an entirely new market for SG Systems.


"We've been approached by other repacking facilities about a similar system," he said. "We consider produce to be a new market."